UK and European equities have largely struggled to get off the ground this morning, with last nights earnings-tainted drop in US markets seemingly the main lag. This is despite the whopping increase in UK Retail Sales of 2.6% for December, smashing expectations with the highest monthly reading since 2004. William Hill have endured a difficult couple of weeks as the share price first came under pressure when David Cameron joined the argument raising concerns regarding the impact of fixed-odds betting terminals which have become a mainstay and big profit maker for betting shops. This was followed last week by a very rare set of footballing results with the top 7 teams in the Premiership all winning leading to a loss of over £13million. They have attempted to find the positive referring to ‘Dettori Day’ in 1996 when big wins for punters led to increased confidence and hence an increased revenue for bookies in the following months. They have also sought to address the fixed terminal debate by agreeing to work with the government to allay current concerns. This all taken into account they have still guided the market to expect profits to be broadly in line with full details due on February 28th. The sterling performance of Stobart shows no signs of abating as we found out this morning that the trend in underlying profitability has continued slightly ahead of the same period last year. A busy Christmas period means trading is forecast to be in line with the boards forward guidance. They have continued their policy of property sales which has generated £85m since 2012 and has allowed them to reduce their debt down to £10.9m. Positive sentiment flowed through the announcement with the board confident in meeting their long term growth targets. Shell have shed over 3% in early trading after reporting a poor fourth quarter of 2013. Profits for the year are now expected to be $16.6bn in comparison to 2012 when they came in at $27.2bn and represent a significant miss in terms of profit targets.. It seems that Shell had been negatively impacted by a range of issues including security problems in Nigeria, higher exploration costs and the weakening Australian dollar. The official annual results are due to be published on the 30th of January but today’s announcement adds to the string of poor quarterly results from Shell over the past year. CMC Markets is an execution only service provider. The material (whether or not it states any opinions) is for general information purposes only, and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.